Methadone is a prescription opioid that’s used either as a way to relieve pain in medical patients or as a way to help people stop using other opioids. Methadone is weaker than other opioids including heroin, and it is sometimes administered in clinical settings as a way to help eliminate withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
Since methadone is weaker than other opioids, there’s not the euphoric high associated with its use. This comes with its own set of risks, however. Because the high isn’t as strong with methadone, the risk of an overdose can be significant because people might use dangerous amounts of the drug.
Methadone affects the same receptor sites as other opioids. When someone uses methadone, it binds to these receptor sites, and in particular, it affects the central nervous system. As a result, methadone slows the CNS, which controls functions like breathing and heart rate. Methadone and other opioids can also trigger the brain’s reward cycle, which is how addiction develops.
When someone is addicted to a substance, their use is out of their control. It’s happening because of changes in the function of the neurotransmitters and systems in their brain.
When someone is addicted to methadone and dependent on it, it’s a compulsive, chronic disorder. Addiction is a complex disease, and for many people having at least one relapse is part of that. If someone is addicted to methadone, they often require professional treatment.
Effective Addiction Treatment for Methadone
Methadone addiction treatment can happen in a variety of different settings, and distinctive approaches can be used, but some commonalities should be seen in any effective rehab program.
Effective opioid addiction treatment should include the following:
- Addiction is complex but treatable according to guidelines from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The use of methadone and other substances affect how the brain functions and its structure. These changes can be enduring even after someone stops using drugs. This should all be taken into account during an effective methadone addiction treatment program.
- Everyone is an individual, and their treatment should reflect that. There’s not one approach to drug addiction treatment that is going to work effectively for everyone or meet everyone’s needs. Treatment needs to be highly personalized.
- Treatment needs to be readily available, especially since it can be overwhelming to enter treatment. The sooner someone can enter treatment, the better.
- Effective treatment for methadone addiction needs to consider all of the needs of a person. This is called holistic addiction treatment, and it views a person as much more than their use of methadone or any other substance.
- Staying in treatment for long enough is important for good long-term outcomes. A big part of this is taking the time to find a treatment center where you or your loved one will feel comfortable.
- Behavioral therapy is a core component of addiction treatment. Behavioral therapy can occur in different settings and formats, however. Behavioral therapy can include both individual and group counseling as well as family therapy.
- For some people, medications might be part of their addiction treatment program. Medications can work especially well when carefully paired with behavioral therapy.
Inpatient and Outpatient Methadone Addiction Treatment
While every rehab program is going to be unique, there are two primary categories of addiction treatment.
The first is inpatient methadone rehab, and the second is outpatient methadone addiction treatment.
During inpatient rehab, patients check into a facility. They spend their nights there for a period of time. This might be 30 days, or it could be longer, depending on the center, the individual and their needs. During a person’s time in inpatient rehab, they can’t come and go as they please, but this does remove a lot of stress and the potential to relapse.
Inpatient methadone rehab includes very structured and scheduled days, and participants are expected to meet the guidelines and rules of the program.
Due to the intensive nature of inpatient rehab, it can lead to positive outcomes for patients. However, inpatient rehab does require participants to leave their home, their work, and their family while they’re in treatment. Inpatient rehab can also be more expensive than other forms of addiction treatment.
Another less formal and structured option is outpatient rehab. During outpatient methadone rehab, participants can stay at home and continue living their daily lives as normal, but they go to scheduled treatment sessions. These sessions may focus on drug education, relapse prevention, or cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Methadone PHP Rehabs
There is a middle ground between inpatient methadone rehab and outpatient treatment which is the PHP. PHP stands for partial hospitalization programs.
A methadone PHP rehab is going to be similar to inpatient rehab in many ways. For example, patients have very scheduled days, and treatment is intensive. However, in the evening patients can return home or to a sober living house.
Some people may start treatment with a PHP, while others may go to PHP between inpatient and outpatient rehab.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone to participate in several different levels of addiction treatment rather than choosing between inpatient, outpatient or PHP treatment.
For example, someone might start with a medical detox as they go through symptoms of methadone withdrawal. Then, they could begin inpatient rehab and when that ended go into outpatient rehab or another kind of program.
How Much Does Methadone Treatment Cost?
Cost is a big concern and sometimes a barrier for people who are seeking treatment for methadone addiction and dependence.
The costs can vary, and generally, inpatient rehab is more expensive than other forms of treatment, but the costs of continuing to use methadone are often much higher. Factors that might play a role in how much methadone rehab costs include:
- Whether a program is inpatient or outpatient
- The length of treatment
- Amenities or other unique features available at the treatment center
- Whether or not a medical detox is required
Insurance does in many cases cover some or all of the cost of addiction treatment, and if not there are often financial aid programs and scholarships available to people who need treatment.
To learn more about receiving treatment for methadone addiction and programs that might be available, reach out to Amethyst Recovery Center.
My mom was a methadone treatment advocate for some time and helped a lot of people get off hard drugs.